Hollywood Homicide

September 11th, 2003 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

Starring: Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Isiah Washington, Lena Olin, Lolita Davidovich, Bruce Greenwood, Martin Landau, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dwight Yoakam, Gladys Knight

Directed by Ron Shelton

Film distribution is a funny thing. Often an Australian distributor will buy a movie and then — maybe because of a bad reception in the US — do one of two things; cut their losses and condemn it to a small-scale release or straight-to-video hell.

The other is to saturate audiences with trailers and advance marketing in the hope you can trick them into thinking you’ve got something special. That way, if you trick enough people into seeing it on the first weekend, you’ll recoup your costs before anyone realises how bad it is.

To be fair to distributors, some big name Hollywood actors have such clout they can dictate how a film is marketed (and how much) worldwide. Hence, the local distributor might be stuck fronting up an expensive marketing campaign for a film they know is a turkey.

Any of the above could be true of Hollywood Homicide — in the trailers it looked like just another buddy/cop action comedy, but they’ve been advertising it so relentlessly for so long now it was enough to make you think it might have something special to offer.

Sadly, it hasn’t.

Looking as old and tired as the rest of the movie, Harrison Ford teams with pretty boy Josh Hartnett as two LA homicide detectives who want to do anything but police work (the former is a struggling real estate broker, the latter an aspiring actor).

When the performers at a funky hip hop club are gunned down, it plunges them into the murky world of the rap music business, full of gangbangers, wannabes and rich, sleazy record executives.

The kernel of the story is something you can see in a million B grade action thrillers. But dozens of other subplots drift in and out of the picture (from Ford’s love affair with a radio psychic to his battle with the Internal Affairs agent determined to bring him down), irritating and at times confusing you.

If the comic duo at the centre of the movie were as strong an anchor to the structure you think they’ll be, it might have made Hollywood Homicide at least palatable. But thanks to unfunny dialogue, shoddy character development and choppy storytelling, at times you’re left wondering how important they are to the story.

Despite his presence in some of Hollywood’s most iconic movies, Harrison Ford’s success in acting has mostly been thanks to the directors he’s worked with. Left alone in a plain dramatic/comic role, he shows serious limitations — or maybe it’s just old age and a complete lack of interest. Hartnett tries hard but any talent he possesses is buried under the clumsy script and messy plotting.

And a final word of warning if you do give Hollywood Homicide a go; pick a comfortable seat in the cinema. While you’re waiting for the action to start, the confusing setup, endless talk and lack of comedy seem to go on forever. When it does kick into high gear, the action takes place entirely in a single, protracted and overlong chase sequence that also never seems to end.

It’s an old, tired, white and bloated Bad Boys, without even the saving grace of snappy dialogue.

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